Q&A: Overwintering Bananas

Tips for growing banana plants in cold weather.

Q: I have a two-foot banana planted in my yard. I planted it in the early spring and before that had it in a pot indoors. Is it safe to leave it outside all winter?

— R.J., Long Island, N.Y.

A: It depends on what type of banana you have. Because your banana is only about two feet tall after the growing season, you might have Musa acuminata 'Super Dwarf Cavendish'. This diminutive banana reaches just two to four feet tall. It has green foliage and can produce fruit. Due to its compact habit, it's an ideal tropical for containers or planting around a patio. Since it's hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 10 and you live in a Zone 6 climate, this banana should be dug, transplanted to a container and brought indoors for the winter. As a houseplant, provide it with low to moderate light and occasional watering; don't let the soil dry out completely.

There are several larger-sized bananas also not hardy in your zone. Musa acuminata, 'Dwarf Cavendish' and 'Sumatrana' (also sometimes known as M. acuminata 'Zebrina') have clumping habits. Dwarf Cavendish has green leaves while Sumatrana has green leaves with red striping. Red Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelli') has gorgeous green foliage blushed with red and complemented by scarlet-red leaf petioles. It grows to 10 feet tall and does not clump. Hardy in Zones 9 to 10, these bananas should be dug and taken inside for the winter.

If you're looking for a banana that's hardy in your USDA Zone 6, consider growing hardy banana (Musa basjoo) or Chinese yellow banana (Musella lasiocarpa). Hardy banana has become quite popular with gardeners for its cold hardiness and bold tropical foliage. Hardy in Zones 6 to 10, it grows eight to 10 feet tall in one growing season and has green foliage and occasional non-tasty fruit. Chinese yellow banana has gray-green leaves and reaches about six feet tall. It's valued for its striking, bright yellow flower (not fruit). Chinese yellow banana is hardy to Zones 7 to 10 and marginally hardy to Zone 6. Both have clumping habits. To help both overwinter, you can cut them back after a killing frost and apply a thick layer of mulch over the plant's crown. Or, let the leaves collapse on top of the plant, providing additional insulation. Add mulch around the base of the plant.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Q&A: Pruning Coreopsis and Marguerite Daisies

Tips for taking care of these lovely blooms in the winter.

How to Winterize Your Roses

Check out these tips to get your roses through the winter unscathed.

Hellebores: Winter's Delight

Richly colored flowers, beautiful evergreen foliage and a tough nature has made the Lenten rose a favorite.

Winter Houseplant Care

Winter is the perfect time to give your houseplants a little extra attention.

Q&A: Trimming Back a Fig Bush

How to keep your fig bush going strong all through winter.

Frost Heave

Exactly what causes heaving, and can it be prevented?

Growing a Better Grape

A grape grower in the Napa Valley suggests tips for growing better fruit.

Make Room for Melons

This luscious fruit family offers a world of diversity. If you grow your own melons, you can harvest at the peak of flavor.

Q&A: Overwintering Thyme

Learn how to help thyme survive the winter months.

Q&A: Readying Roses for Winter

Read on for tips on preparing your roses for the chilly weather.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Living Big Sky

6:30am | 5:30c

Living Big Sky

7:30am | 6:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Home Town

10am | 9c

Home Town

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Desert Flippers

1:30pm | 12:30c

Desert Flippers

2:30pm | 1:30c

Desert Flippers

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Risky Builders

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Flip or Flop

12am | 11c

Flip or Flop

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Risky Builders

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.